I’ve been singing the praises of the OM container since I first started OMing. But the truth is as I look back over my 2 years of OMing I can now recognize that the containers were pretty loose in some ways. Perhaps there’s ways we all “cheat” a bit here or there, thinking it’s no big deal. And maybe that’s true under curtain circumstances. But the thing I’m learning is that I can’t understand the profundity of a method if I continuously fall out of it. And continuously fall out of it I did! In particular, I’m recognizing that packing up of the nest at the end of the OM was rarely employed according to it’s design during the majority of my OMs.
Of course, I can only see this in hind site. All throughout my OMing career I felt that the container was as intended, or, at the least “good enough.” In some ways it was good enough in that the looseness of the container contributed to a some really lovely unfoldings in my relationship. But I can also see that from my very first OM the container was not followed as intended, and this led me to miss out on some of the serious perks and nuances of a solid container.
It wasn’t until I started OMing with my “OM stranger” (as opposed to doing it with the person I’d been in relationship with) that I was able to study certain aspects of experience. OMing with him was different than OMing with my (then) boyfriend because of some obvious reasons- for one, we didn’t have the same level of intimacy. But another thing that was different was the space post OM. There was more of a “sharing” and connected type of experience after OMing with my boyfriend, where as with my OM stranger I was showing him to the door not long after the nest was put away. Ah, yes. After the nest was put away. Zing! You see, with my boyfriend, we rarely followed procedure at the end of our OM. We’d hang out in the nest for extended periods of time, sometimes sharing, which almost all of the time included physical contact, and quite often included sex. Eventually, the nest was either put away or just half-hazardly dismantled. Seen one way, the sharing and connectedness was an after perk of the OM experience. But in another way it established/maintained unhealthy patterning.
Not adhering to the OM protocol with regard to the end of an OM was a huge lack of distinctions on our part from our very first OM almost straight through to our last OM. And I never really thought about it as a problem, because I didn’t know that what I was engaging in post OM without putting the nest away was diminishing the full impact of the OM experience as intended. As I said earlier, I didn’t understand the profundity of the method because I was continuously falling out of the method. Said another way, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
The OM container has a “method to its madness”- it is strict and constructed in such a way for particular purposes. If I had to say in one sentence what the purpose of the container is I’d say to wake us up to and deconstruct various culturally created norms of behavior. There’s lots and lots of norms that OMing challenges- the one I’m currently studying and writing about here, and the one that got overlooked by not following the OM container, is the cultural norm of emotional labor. This bleeds into something also emphasized in OMing- no commerce. OMing is not a “tit for tat” exchange. It’s not a “you rub my clit, and then I’ll do something for you” dynamic. But in the oxytocin high, combined with the lack of a tight container, this can easily be slid into.
A little bit about emotional labor. Economically speaking we can all see how emotional labor is at play. There are certain jobs that have emotional labor as part of the job or even as a key component of the job: the hospitality field, social work or social services, teachers, nurses, flight attendants are a few. Men and women can both be required to employ emotional labor, although it’s well recognized that it “may be especially problematic for women workers” based on the tendencies of job segregation.
Emotional labor is sneaks into the personal realm but in a much more subversive and often invisible way. Two easy to read articles which quickly explain the prevalence of emotional labor in our culture are here and here. Almost all women understand how emotional labor is a part of our world, but we don’t always recognize the magnitude of the cost on us. Men on the other hand often have no idea what we’re talking about, as it’s the culture they’ve always been in. (Disclaimer: this is not to say that men aren’t sometimes the giver of emotional labor.)
So, what does this have to do with OMing? When men and women are involved emotional labor has a lot to do with everything. And it has to do with OMing because if the container is strictly followed then it will decrease and furthermore dismantle the possibility of emotional labor taking place. Which is huge. And which is so very important.
That’s it for part 1. In part 2 I’ll explore out how not following protocol with regard to the end of an OM can decrease the full impact of possibility that OMing can offer (and support the cultural norm of emotional labor and sex as commerce/we don’t own our orgams). I’m also going to write about the role of oxytocin in all of this. And lastly I’ll share how my OM stranger dude is rocking my world and helping me wake up in ways I never dreamed of.